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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  September 27, 2014 7:30pm-8:01pm EDT

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afford to pay rent, they can't afford to buy food. >> and with less government aid for food, the strain is on charities to fill the void and depend on donations to keep feeding new york's hungry. let's check out our team. here a science journalist and'dicator with a background in neurobiology. tonight, a controversial
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treatment. >> all right, i'm all rigged up. some say zapping her brain with small amounts of electricity is make her smarter, cure depression and more. is they -- evidence real? >> how do you feel after finishing that? >> and tonight a selfie. >> we look at the pore head and work our -- forehead and work our way down to the brow. the scientists say they can guess your age and how long you will live from a photo. >> now the technoteam puts it to the test. >> how old are you? >> a molecular neuroscientist, i'm an entomologist. that's our team, now let's do some science.
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welcome to techno. joining me today. would you zap your brain at home? >> absolutely not. i'm an expert. i don't think recreational brain experiments are a good idea. >> tell us about this brain hacking. >> there is a growing movement of diyers applying electrical stimulation to their brains. it's not a good idea to do it at home, but there is a lot of promise in clinical trial. let's take a look. >> how is that? >> feels fine. >> making your hair look nice. all right. >> she is about to send a small jolt of electricity to her brain. >> flip it on. >> okay. >> it's a diy version of what is
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known as transcranial direct stimulation. it is being tested for a range of therapies like depression and brain injuries resulting from strokes and cerebral palsy. people are all ages are trying it. the devices are seemingly easy to build and can be powered by a mere 9 volt battery this. inspired a growing movement of diyers to make their own using advice and instruction from the internet like this couple. >> i was riding down the front part of a race track on my motorcycle. i ended up getting pushed by the wind and i grabbed the brakes. i flip today over and landed
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headfirst at 120 miles per hour. i had a really bad concutionz. concussion. >> it's been two years and what kinds of symptoms were you experiencing that made you want to move forward and try out this new device? >> i felt like ever since my crash i haven't quite gotten back to where i was. in my job i have been a software developer and things that take a lot of concentrated time in front of a computer. and i was finding that certain problems would be very frustrating for me. i want to explore some of the different configuration, placements for the electrodes to increase learning and memory. >> with about $60 in parts ordered on-line, jeff build the device for erica. >> i wanted to make her something that was all she wanted it to and be not wasteing
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a bunch of money. the goal is have it adjustment, between .5 and 2 millions. i can test them and make sure we get the voltage we expect and amperage so it's not so little it does nothing and not so much we don't fry any important brain parts. there we go. home built td~ cs. how is that? >> i'm getting a much better effect. i can feel prickly and i feel more alert. >> erica told me she does td~ cs for 10 minutes a day while relaxing. >> tell me how you feel now after finishing that td~ cs session? >> i feel alert like i just woke up from a nice little nap. i feel more alert. and i am kind of ready to do stuff. >> when you first heard did it make you nervous at all to, you
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know, try to get involved in brain hacking in a diy kind of way? >> not at all. >> really? >> it seemed pretty straightforward. the currents are so low voltage, very low millions. to say passing a low level of current is automatically safe is just not true. >> he is a professor of biomedical engineering at city college in new york. >> it means you can engineer carefully safe devices and makes people think some how anybody can do this without any control or thought. >> he recently co-founded a company that manufactures td~ cs devices for use in clinical trials. >> as it is done in hospitals and research centers is considered very safe and very well tolerated. that is a very specific set of
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protocols and environment and set of devices. >> he showed me how his research team builds computer models to predict how current hits the brain. >> this is what shows up. warmer colors represent more color flow. the red square is the anode and the blue is the cathode. the anode is the positive terminal of the battery and the cathode is the negative terminal of the badry and your head is the circle. >> when applied in lab settings it is about the amounts needed to power a small led light bulb. the amount that reaches the cortex of the brain after going through layers of skull, skin, fat and spinal fluid is smaller. >> the brain is bathed in a low level of direct current flow.
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the brain is super sensitive to electricity because the brain uses electricity. the neurons have a voltage cross them. for a neuron at rest that is amound minus 80-millivolts. if it increases enough to what is call a threshold that might be around minus 60-millivolts, it makes a decision to fire an action potential. >> instead of forcing a neuron to fire, you are just tweaking how much more input it needs, natural input it needs to fire on its own. >> that's a good way to put it. it took me 10 years of research to come to that. >> i figured this is the right place to try tdcs for the first time. i am rigged up and about to try in a controlled environment. don't try this at home.
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all right, so i'm getting 1.5 mili amps of stimulation. i can feel it on my skin. it's burnie, prickly, kind of hot and itchy like i want to scratch it. i wouldn't say it hurts. i didn't experience anything else. >> actually for the low intensity that you got, you wouldn't expect to feel like a new person or you have achieved some sort of super natural intelligence. >> no. i don't feel any different. researchers believe this barely noticeable amount can prime what is known as plasticity. >> it can enhance that. >> what did tdc s do? what is it used for? >> it's almost surprising how broad the applications are. almost every neuropsychiatric
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disorder like schizophrenia and depression and cognitive enhancement. >> how do you respond to people who say it is snake oil. >> i have used that analogy myself. if i provided you something in a vial and said it will help you with depression, make your niece better at math and in one vial, because i'm making so many claims it stops being believable. the simplable -- simple answer is it's not one thing in a vial. it's where we put the electrodes on the head and combine it with training and behavioral therapy. >> coming up: i put another kind of brain stimulation to the test. weird.
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we would -- want to hear what you think about these stories. really care about us as far as the african american stereotypes, all the music they listen too is rap, they only use ebonics, they don't know how to speak proper english, they've never read a book in their life, all they do is get high, smoke weed, no... i've never been exposed to anything like that... coming from a mom who as a single mother, had her first child at 16, who is the ceo of her own company, me being someone who is about to graduate, who is the recipient of a full scholarship, the stereotype is absolutely flawed. >> did it ever cross your mind that. being a single mother that, your children may end up like the statistics say they're gonna fail >> being a single mom...
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raising five kids, i've always said you guys, you be 100% the best that you can be >> i would like to run for the senate in 2032. then it leads to the great big goal in life, to run for the office of the president of the united states of america >> catch more stories from edge of eighteen on al jazeera america
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>> just going to check. >> okay. >> in dozens of clinical trial around the world a new technique for transcrannial direct stimulation is being used for a range of issues. >> where they put the electrode on the head is intentional. you might put it for motor regions if someone had
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a stroke. >> an on-going stud setesting to see if stroke patient cans benefit. this 78-year-old signed up for the trial. >> did you feel anything? >> there was a slight warmth, a little tingle and that's about all. >> you felt it on your skin, but did you feel anything inside your brain or mind? >> no, i was looking for something like that, but it never happened. >> patients under go 20 minutes followed by physical therapy. instead of a human physical therapist a robotic device is used to engage the patient's muscles by playing a type of video game. >> whatever i can't do it takes over and gets you there. i try to do as much as i can on my own. >> dr. dylan edward system heading up the -- edwards is heading up the study. >> we think this is going to have more impact.
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>> the study is blind meaning some patients get tdcs and others get a placebo, a sham simulation. >> do you feel there was a significant difference before the trial and after? >> yes. it was a distinct difference in the sensation and use of my arm. >> really? the team uses another type of brain stimulation called transcranial magnetic stimulation. it is powered by a magnetic coil and used by the toam -- team to measure the brain after tdcs. >> we will register your brain to the motion capture. >> it's quite a get up. all >> nice and relaxed.
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[laughing] great. >> how weird. it feels like you are flicking me in the head. >> i would like to you do a small muscle contraction. >> we are trying to send a lot of information to your brain. don't get scare federal your hand twitch, okay? >> okay. oh, yeah. that's the first time i felt it. >> the single pulse of magnetism. the shock is only 100 micro seconds or so. it causes activity in the brain that goes all the way down to your spinal cord and out to your muscles. >> it was totally involuntary and caused by stimulating my brain. the team uses this technique to measure muscle contraction and the motor evoke potential in the participating stroke patient. it is hope those who receive
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tdcs will show greater improvement than those who didn't. i don't feel different but you can feel it compared to the tdcs. this is a lot more intense. >> right. just to clarify this is different with tdcs that doesn't lead to the twitching of muscles. >> sure. >> this is a diagnostic probe rather than a treatment. >> the study will be completed at the end of 2016. meanwhile, researchers at this pediatric hospital are beginning to conduct similar trials for children with cerebral palsy. >> how does it feel? >> tickles. >> this is 12-year-old tie -- tea morgan's first session. >> the brain is still forming at a very young age. there is still the be ability to get it back as much as
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possible. jury you hopeful something like -- >> are you hopeful it could be helpful to your daughter? >> it would help her do what she could like the rest of the kids and see the way she reacts and holds back. she could just be a normal kid like everybody else. >> around the world, other studies for treating fibro myable capain is moving forward. >> if you look at what is out there for people who are depressed and suffering from intollerrable pain. aside from drugs there is nothing out there. if this continues to be like this, i am sure it will make it to the market and help millions of people. i'm definitely exciteed. >> we are seeing the early pieces of what tdcs can do. not because of what it can do
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right now, but the fact we don't think we have seen anything yet. >> it could be years before tdcs is approved by the fda. those in the diy community like erica and jeff aren't willing to wait. >> are you worried about safety risks? >> in this society we accept certain amount of unknown. i don't think it's realistic to wait until we have a complete answer if there is any risk or what that risk actually looks like. >> the worst case is it doesn't help as much as it seems to because people really want it to work. and there are lots of folks working through afternoon injury. it may be half placebo and half help. >> the do it yourself effort is not good for the advancement of the science. if someone were to hurt themselves doing something that has little resemblence do what
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we do but they say they were hurt by tdcs, highway that -- how will that reflect on us? >> why would i want to do this at home? why? >> there is a growing movement of people who are interested in this brain hacking phenomenal this self-optismization where nothing is wrong, biyou want to v more -- but you want more concentration and better cognitive power. i am still a bit skeptical, but i could see why it would catch on. >> what is the difference between this therapy and electric shock? >> elect row convulsive therapy is used for clinical depression. the major difference is ect uses so much more electricity. it's a major shock to the brain that causes total convulsions
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and the tdcs we are talking about minimal changes to the electricity of the brain that researchers think changes the ability to rewire and plasticity. >> i can't wait to see the results of the studies. next: we are going from diy brain hacking to diy figuring out how long you will live. and it's using your cell phone. you think it will work? >> i don't know. >> we'll find out after the break. >> the latest on an alleged arsonist who caused thousands of flights to be cancelled in chicago. when things are expected to get back to normal. our weekly segment shows a high number of african/americans among police
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the shooing victims. all that and more, straight ahead.
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รข [music] >> welcome back to tech know. guy, figuring out how long you
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will live is a difficult but important question. do you think a cell phone could help you figure it out? >> i'm skeptical, i have to be honest. >> no, i don't think we are there yet. >> our colleague talked to two researchers who have an app that can maybe get us part way there. let's take a look. >> the tell tale lines on our faces give a good indication of our age. but what if the signs of aging could predict how long we are going to live. >> we know people who look younger for their age tend to live longer. >> useing this premise, the doctor partnered with a computer science professor at the university of north carolina. they created a program and website called face my age. >> and so the purpose of the website is to allow people to upload their picture and then allow the algorythms tell them
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how old their face is. not their chronological age, buffets age and with other -- but face age. it will give information about life span. >> some of my colleagues and i decided to face our ages. we took closeup selfies and uploaded them. >> in this imaging of your face we are showing the points that we use to break up and these white dots you can barely see are points we use. >> the technology is based on facial recognition software. he has developed programs for the fbi and homeland security. >> starting from the top we look at the forehead and work down to the brow, large pores and scaling an indication of an older individual. we look at drooping of the ends
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of the mouth that are all indicators of aging. we got an age of 35, all right. your life expectance was 84, which is a pretty good life expectancy. >> next up our host. >> this is my selfie. what can you tell me about my fiewt ?ur. >> going down we look at the forehead this. is an indication possibly you spent time out in the sun. you have some creasing here, but you don't see that in any other parts of your face. in essence this is a fairly young face. if joo if we put this into the software, what would happen? >> we would have some problems relative to the facial hair. it throws off the alignment and covers up information. >> you are saying i took a selfie for science but it
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wasn't enough. i need to shave for sighence. >> yeah, yeah, yeah. >> that's pushing it. i don't know. >> since he isn't willing to lose the beard we asked crystal to submit a self gee let's see what it says. >> are you ready in. >> i'm scared. >> all right. >> wow. i'll take it. >> how old are you? >> i am 31. >> all right. we say 28. and we give you other data relative to expected life span and probability of living past 65 and 85. >> both are over 50%. >> it's really good. a lot better than mine. >> is it? >> yeah. >> the longevity prediction is based on a short questionnaire that asks do you smoke and what is your level of education? all factors doctors say effect how long we live. >> we have not linked the face age to the longevity. that's a component of research we have planned for the next
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couple of years. let's say you are 30 and your face age comes in at 25. what we are trying to do is find out how that five year reduction in face age translates into extended longevity. >> on a more personal level, doctors hope being able to get a longevity prediction may inspire people to make healthier life choices. >> in terms of accuracy i'm skeptical, but it's fun. >> i showed up to the office that day and had my face scanned. it said i was 50. [laughing] please dear god tell me i don't look 50. >> you don't. >> maybe the lip ring. >> it probably did throw it off. i'm not sure why a lip ring would make me look 50. we'll say it's the lip ring. >> when i tweeted about-face my age i got more responses from people trying it at home than i have on any other shoot.
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some say it nailed it and others said it didn't really work. fascinating stuff. you can see how science in the lab can be different than doing science at home. and science at home can be useful. when it comes to zapping your brain or medical diagnostics maybe you want to be more cautious. >> not sure you want to try it at home. >> we'll bring you more next week here on tech know. >> dive deep into those stories. follow our expert contributors on twitter, facebook, instagram, google plus and more. next saturday on tech know we are heading to the cal tech campus. see the latest research, discoveries and break throughs in some of the most advanced
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labs. tech know, every saturday. go with science meets humanity. next saturday at seven:30 on seven:30 eastern. this is aljaer. >> -- al ja swreer jeera america. >> we warned against the temptation to make alleys with anybody who proclaimed to be an enemy of assad. >> flights still cancelled and delayed across the country after yesterday's controll traffic center fire.


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